On Sunday, October 9th I am going to be running my first full marathon: the Chicago Marathon. As we speak I am en route to Chicago so I thought as a special treat on the blog I would share my running story.
As you might have gathered from the blog, I grew up in suburban Chicago. I pretty much left when I turned 18 and never looked back but I am so happy that I am running my first full in my “original home” (as opposed to one of my two subsequent homes, Boston and Los Angeles). It’s actually rather funny since most of my running in the Chicago area occurred in gym class and I absolutely hated it. I think I actually may have faked sick to get out of running the mile once while in junior high. I had two brief periods of running in college but it never stuck until January 1st 2010.
On New Year’s Day I decided to start the year off right with a run. It was something that I had done before. In past years I set crazy goals for myself like, “I’m going to work out every day!” None of that happened in 2010. I just decided to go out for a short two mile run. It was really hard for me but something clicked. I was just coming out of my first semester of law school and some crazy personal life drama. I needed something to focus my energy on. I barely worked out after I moved to LA but in January something shifted.
During the spring of 2010 I continued to run, no more than three miles at a time. I loved running outside, something that I could do year round in LA. I started to lose weight that I had gained over the years and liked the results. Around that same time my former college roommate was training for her first half and a law school friend plated the idea of running a half together. At first I thought, “no way in hell am I that person who is going to run for 13 miles. Insane.” I’m glad they did it. By June I was registered for my first half and I ran it in November 2010. Training for a half marathon gave my running a sense of purpose that my running didn’t have before.
The race was hard due to hills and over 80 degree temperatures but I remember turning to my friend Ela and I turning to each other and saying that after a short break we felt like we could run more. The marathon seed had been planted.
I am not by nature a very spontaneous person. I like to think things out, have a plan and know that if I commit to something I’m going to be able to fully execute it. That was the approach I took to thinking about the marathon. During my fall finals in 2010 I discovered the movie Spirit of the Marathon. The idea of a marathon had already been marinating for a while but the movie made me more motivated to set a date for a marathon. I knew I wanted to have plenty of time to train. I knew that I didn’t want to worry about intense training during law school exams or during the bar exam (which I will take in July 2012). Fall 2011 was going to be the time to do it. This was even better timing because I was already signed up for my second half marathon, which I would run in June just before most fall marathon training plans kick off. In January of 2011 I made my final decision: I was going to run Chicago. It made sense: perfect timing, holiday weekend, fantastic spectator support and plenty of my own personal spectators, my parents still live in Chicago so expenses would be low and there wouldn’t be the ordeal of dealing with a hotel. I signed up the first day registration was open.
I ran throughout the spring of 2011 with my eyes mostly set on a half marathon, which by the way I totally owned beating my old personal record by 9 mins.
The post PR glow
My post San Diego runners high was just what I needed to get me excited for and carry me through marathon training. I spoke to several friends and even got my paws on a Team in Training training plan which I adapted to meet my needs. Obviously I went into marathon training already in half marathon shape. My training didn’t really feel like training until early August. A trip to Boston followed by moving and having family in town threw a wrench into the month of July. By the end of the month I really still felt like I was just trained for a half marathon but I was building muscle, stretching in yoga, taking care of my body and getting into the best shape of my life.
That all changed in August when I took on a 14 mile run, a 16 mile run, and my third half marathon. September brought another 16 mile run, my 18 mile run and an epic 20 miler. I didn’t even feel sore after my 20 mile run and I knew that I was ready for Chicago.
Throughout my training I took a very conservative approach. I did not train for time. My motto on long runs was Billy, Don’t be a Hero. For me, just completing my first marathon is a huge achievement. In the future I can train for time but for now, proving that I can run a marathon is enough for now. I don’t feel like my running story is that extraordinary. I set a goal for myself and took a measured approach at achieving it. The marathon for me is about achieving anything I set my mind to. Working hard will bring you everything and this marathon is proof of that. Regardless of time, crossing the finish line on Sunday is going to be a moment that I know I will never forget.
Thank you to all my friends. The support I’ve gotten in the past few months has really been overwhelming. People from all parts of my life have cheered me on and supported me and it really means a lot to me. I’ll be thinking of all of you while running in Chicago!